DEAR HELOISE: Many people today are traveling for business, vacations and to visit family and friends. But what do you do when you need a doctor in a foreign country? — Laura S., Auburn, Washington

Laura, your first call should be to the U.S. embassy (http://www.usembassy.gov), and I recommend having the phone number and address of the embassy with you for each country you plan to visit. The embassy can help you find a doctor or hospital, and even can contact family or friends on your behalf. Make sure the doctor you see can understand your language, and make a list of all medications you take. Have this information in your wallet for easy access.

It’s always best to be proactive with your health. Make sure you’re up to date with all vaccinations, have all of your medications with you, and carry a card with your blood type, any chronic illness you might suffer from and any allergies you have. Wear a medical-alert bracelet, especially if you have a serious medical condition. If you are traveling to a dangerous place, it’s wise to register with the American embassy in that country. — Heloise

DEAR HELOISE: I have empty, hard-plastic gum containers, about 5 or 6 inches tall, but I didn’t know what to do with them. Since they have attached lids that snap shut, I thought it was a shame to toss them out, so now I use them to pack trail mix or some type of dried fruit for my kid’s lunch. I’ve used them for “munchies” on a plane. These containers fit in a lunchbox or purse, and they can be washed and reused. — Claire M., Hanover Park, Illinois

DEAR HELOISE: I have a beautiful white silk blouse that has perspiration stains. Can I use chlorine bleach to get the stains out? — Lola W., Melrose, Massachusetts

Lola, no, don’t use chlorine bleach on silk, as it ruins the fabric over time. First, pre-treat the stained area or soak with a product containing enzymes. Next, hand-wash with a mild soap and an oxygen bleach, if directions on the box say it’s safe for silk.

Removing stains from clothing can be tricky, and if done incorrectly the garment can be ruined. If you’d like information on how to remove stains from your clothing, you can send for my pamphlet Handy Stain Guide for Clothing. To get a copy, send $5 to: Heloise/Stains, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Or you can order it online at www.Heloise.com.

DEAR HELOISE: I have a window garden and a compost bin. Is it OK to use pickle juice to irrigate my plants, or should I pour it onto the compost pile? — Cliff S., via email

Cliff, pour it on the compost pile. Pickle juice easily could burn the roots of delicate plants. — Heloise

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Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or you can fax it to 1-210-HELOISE or email it to Heloise@Heloise.com.